SUNY Oneonta and Hartwick College: Two great schools meeting divergent student needs and goals.

We encourage all of our students to visit the colleges and universities which they might have an interest in applying. Two schools a day is probably the maximum as ones memory can get a bit blurred when comparing and contrasting the visits. 

Our last adventure was a one and a half hour trip west of the Capital district to SUNY Oneonta and Hartwick College.  Although a stones throw from each other they are actually unique campuses.

SUNY Oneonta was our first stop.  With 5600 undergraduates and only 200 graduate students, SUNY Oneonta is clearly focused on educating undergraduates.  Additionally, if you’re thinking “safety school” think again, Oneonta has become more difficult to gain admission over the last decade.  With the current economic downturn, the selectivity of this institution appears to be on the rise. 

The school’s motto “Anything is Possible” is reflected in the large number of majors available to students.  The school’s largest and most popular major is education but the list of major and minor options is long and varied.  Although we found the campus to be a bit institutional the student body seemed diverse and (dare we say) cosmopolitan. The chic student body is a reflection of the schools fashion merchandising and apparel design programs along with its music industry major which is the second largest at the college. There are also a number of 3-2 programs offered in many different departments such as accounting or management. This program is open to students in economics and business, and offered in conjunction with Binghamton University’s Graduate School of Management. Students in this program will graduate with their Bachelors and Masters degree in five years.

The schools well-cared for facilities and the impressive new athletic complex added a lot to our overall impression. The dorms were typical of most schools we’ve visited –mostly doubles for first year students and suites and quads for upperclass students.   The Early Action admission program has a November 15th deadline and general admissions is on a rolling basis.  Interested applicants should consider applying as early as possible as academic- and merit-based scholarships are offered in January and are doled out to qualified applicants on a first-come, first-served basis.

Hartwick College, while only a three minute drive from SUNY Oneonta, seems in some ways a world apart.  Hartwick’s campus at first seemed rather daunting with its hills and steps, but as our tour guide told us “students rarely gain the freshman 15 and everything is nice and compact.”  The topography took a back seat very early into the tour as it became clear that the Hartwick Hill is home to an interesting school with caring and intimate feel.  This close knit community is a reflection of the 1200 size student body.  With an average class size of less than 20 and student faculty ratio of 12-1, there are no large lecture style classes at Hartwick.  Getting to know your professor is part of the experience and faculty and staff encourage students to take full advantage of the schools offerings. The school’s focus on experiential learning is a key part to the students’ four year experience and is reflected in the school’s motto “connecting the classroom to the world.”  Hartwick practices what it preaches by supporting experiential learning  (for credit) during the school’s January term (or J-term).  Although the J-term is not required, it is highly recommended and avidly used.  There were currently 15 school-driven study abroad offerings for credit.  Additionally, students who do not participate in these travel-study programs are encouraged to find internships within their chosen field.  These short work opportunities are a wonderful way to help students figure out what professional field they want to pursue once they leave Hartwick.   Our sophomore tour guide had already completed her EMT certificate and plans to spend her second J-term in a clinical setting.  She hopes to spend her junior year J-term in Thailand assisting malnurished children.  Her learning outside the classroom is steadily moving her closer to her ultimate goal of Physician Assistant.  If you are a student looking for a small liberal arts experience this could be the place.  While the private school tuition is steep, Hartwick offers qualified applicants academic- and merit-based scholarships which can potentially bridge the gap between the cost of public and private tuition. 


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